Print to the fore as retail reopens

Retailers have required a huge amount of printed matter
Retailers have required a huge amount of printed matter

Printers up and down the country have been pulling out all the stops to help retailers make their shops Covid-ready for reopening.

Retailers classed as “non-essential”, are allowed to reopen from today (15 June), with vast amounts of activity going on behind the scenes to make shops safe for customers.

“It’s involved a lot of work to get everyone ready. We’ve made lots of sneeze screens, floor decals, posters and banners,” said Miles Linney, CEO at Mansfield-headquartered Linney Group.

“Our creative teams have also been busy on the retail side on training and store layouts. They have produced internal training videos for clients using virtual reality to show what stores would look like.”

Linney said that activity around email and social media campaigns had also picked up. “Our marketing contacts are wanting us to show our frontend marcomms systems to them as we have been using them more in lockdown.

“There’s also a lot of interest in auto artworking, with people working from home in general.”

The requirement for such a wide array of printed graphics spanning everything from large multiples and shopping centres to local independents has benefited print businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Joe Gill, systems analyst at Ashley House Printing Company in Exeter said the firm had been “working flat out” helping local businesses prepare to reopen and implement new safety measures.

“And if the distancing advice changes from two metres to one metre, that will involve a lot of additional work," he added.

The Exeter firm has set up a special ‘Covid-19’ area on its website featuring its most popular products. 

In Kent, Wallace Print managing director Gary Wallace said that his decision to go into his factory every day even when work dried up in the early days of lockdown had paid dividends.

“In April, our work tailed off to something like 20%-25% of what it had been. But I kept coming in to the factory, so when the phone did ring I was here and able to help people,” he said.

“During lockdown we have gained nearly 50 new clients.”

Wallace said the business, which specialises in large-format digital printing, had been running 24 hours a day for the past seven weeks, producing huge volumes of self-adhesive graphics for a number of large retail projects.

Wallace Print has also set up a special area on its website for Covid-19 graphics.

“I worked it out the other day and we have done something like 50 miles of meterage,” he added.

Wallace said that he was seeing signs of an uptick in normal promotional work.

“At one point 90% of our work was Covid-related, but it’s now 75% Covid and 25% non-Covid. We are definitely seeing some green shoots of recovery.”

In an interview with The Times over the weekend, Kurt Geiger retail director Ross Warden said the brand had spent £75,000 per store on a wide range of measures to make the locations Covid-ready. The article stated: “It is, he points out with black humour, a great time to own a signage company.”

The BBC reported large queues outside some retailers, such as Primark, which has been closed during lockdown and does not have an online shopping option.